March 17, 2016|The Journey Journal
African Leadership Academy Model African Union (ALAMAU) is an annual conference for young leaders around Africa and across the world, simulating the activities of the African Union. ALAMAU was established in 2013 as a platform for young leaders to develop practicable solutions to African developmental challenges through diplomacy and international cooperation, in a format inspired by the Model United Nations. ALAMAU is organized as a five-day conference in March each year, by the International Relations Council at African Leadership Academy.
Prior to the conference, the organizing team decides which organs or subsidiary bodies of the African Union (AU) will be simulated at the conference, the topics to be discussed and the countries represented in each committee. Organs that have been simulated previously include the AU Peace & Security Council (15 countries), New Partnership for Africa’s Development (20 countries), AU Executive Council (54 countries) and the AU Assembly of Heads of State & Government (the supreme organ of the AU with all 54 countries) among others. ALAMAU can simulate between five and 10 committees each year (and potentially more), with the aggregate sizes of all the committees accounting for the total number of delegates to the conference.
A delegate is assigned a country and committee, meaning that they will serve as the Ambassador of that country to the African Union, sitting in a particular committee discussing a particular topic. For instance, a delegate could be assigned to be the Ambassador of the Republic of Tanzania sitting on the AU’s Peace & Security Council discussing ‘Strategies for Combating the Growing Threat of Terrorism in Africa’. It then becomes the responsibility of the delegate to carry out research about Tanzania, its foreign policy and international affiliations; the delegate would also study about the Peace & Security Council (including its powers, functions, member states and previous actions) and the topic to be discussed (background, current situation and proposed solutions). Armed with all the information gathered, each delegate will write a one-page ‘position paper’ in advance of the conference which outlines their adopted country’s position on the topic and its recommendations for resolving the issue.
During the conference, delegates attempt to find consensus through the multitude of existing recommendations drafted by participating countries; this often takes the form of speeches, diplomatic notes, moderated caucuses (timed sections to discuss specific aspects of a topic facilitated by a moderator) and immoderate caucuses (timed interludes in formal debate for delegates to negotiate directly with other delegates). Ultimately, blocs will be formed within each committee as nations with similar ideologies and approaches converge to draft a resolution (a formal document outlining the previous diplomatic actions that support the set of recommendations proposed by a group of nations). Depending on the number of blocs formed within a committee, a number of draft resolutions will be submitted for discussion, amendment and eventual vote. At ALAMAU, only one resolution can be passed by a committee, therefore delegates are tasked to seek collaboration in the negotiation process. Once discussions are concluded, only a simple majority is required for a resolution to be passed, concluding the preliminary work of the committee. Delegates participating at ALAMAU acquire several skills and competencies through the process of preparing for the conference as well as during the conference, but there are several learnings and benefits also for educators accompanying the delegates, the organizing team and the host institution.
ALAMAU is a program that has the potential to unlock several new vistas of learning across the continent and around the world. Project-based learning and experiential learning are not common place concepts across Africa, and the field of international affairs is not commonly studied at secondary level. Through ALAMAU, a new generation of young leaders can be developed with a keen awareness of realities around the continent and the potential to create unique new solutions through diplomatic activities.
About the author: Faith Abiodun is the Marketing & Communications Associate and Director of Inetrnational Relations Council at ALA. His vision for Africa is “a continent in which little children will wonder what it means to be plagued by preventable diseases, schools will become true factories of knowledge and infrastructure will be an engine for social development”.